The first weekend in December marks the beginning of seasonal preparations for me. I’m overly practical and this means no Christmas carols or decor before December and that’s that. But this weekend, I baked, decorated, and fussed until the house was in perfectly understated shape. After all, I leave for Paris in only one week! I don’t overwhelm our cozy home with Christmas cheer, just a few touches here and there.
An ornament or two:
And the smallest of trees, Rosemary in fact, to spread a little extra cheer.
This year is the first that I will not have a true Christmas tree. When I bought myself a c. 1950’s chest of drawers for the living room, I knew then that there was no way we would have room for a tree. Originally, with a pained heart, I thought, “How can it be Christmas without at tree?!” But in the end, I realized how trivial a thought like that is.
The Christmas season is about love, patience, and generosity; not in the form of gifts and decorations but in the form of kindness. It warmed my heart to see L placing a few extra cans in our cart at Trader Joe’s this weekend… “What are they for?” I asked. “We’re having a can drive at work,” he responded.
Our family members wonder why we suggest ‘no gifts’. “We don’t have the space and we don’t need anything,” we reply. We like to savor the experience of the holidays by making memories, sharing laughs, and enjoying great food, without focusing on the gift-giving part. In fact, L and I are planning a skiing trip as our ‘gift’ to one another this year.
It is so very easy to get caught up in the chaos of the holiday season and start to experience feelings of anxiety and stress during a time that should be anything but. I focus on what makes this season so wonderful, the food, people, festivities, and overall excitement of the season, and stress is a fleeting feeling. Each day I enjoy a little indulgence, like this morning’s multi-grain hot cereal topped with a small scoop of Nutella, peanut butter, and a crumbled Snickerdoodle. Hey, it’s the holiday season, what do you expect?
I love giving ‘food gifts’ during the holidays. I feel that they show how much I care and can be enjoyed by even the person who ‘has everything’. During the hustle and bustle of the days leading up to this grand holiday, you won’t find me in the mall, but in the kitchen where I am most happy.
Adapted from Martha Stewart and Bakerella . Makes about 2 Dozen
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon white vinegar (in substitution of cream of tartar)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup shortening
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg, room temperature
3 T sugar
2 Tablespoons cinnamon
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Line baking sheet with parchment paper and place in fridge
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
In a mixer, cream butter, shortening,vinegar and sugar on medium until fluffy.Add egg and mix until combined.
Add the flour mixture (slowly!)and beat until combined.
In a small bowl, mix sugar and cinnamon.
Using a small cookie scoop (or a spoon) form dough into uniform balls. Place into the cinnamon-sugar mixture and roll until covered. When coated, you can shape them in a more perfect ball and place on the baking sheet. Be sure to leave sufficient space between the cookies because they spread.
Bake for about 10 minutes or until the cookies begin to crack. Remove and let cool on a wire rack.